Theological fatalism


Theological fatalism

Theological fatalism is the view that all our actions are pre-determined because of God's forknowledge of them, and that therefore we have no free willStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/free-will-foreknowledge/ Foreknowledge and Free Will] ] Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, [http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/foreknow.htm Foreknowledge and Free Will] ] . A related attempt to demonstrate a logical contradiction between an omniscient God and free will is discussed in the Argument from free will.

The argument is roughly stated as follows:
# God is omniscient.
# Since God is omniscient, God has infallible foreknowledge.
# If God has infallible foreknowledge that tomorrow you will engage in event X, then you must invariably engage in event X.
# You must invariably engage in event X.

Therefore, free-will is not possible since you have no alternative except to engage in event X. In the event that you do not fulfill event X, then God is not omniscient. Alternatively, if you engage in event X, then you don't have free-will on account of the inability to choose another alternative.

However, the premises contain some logical flaws and circular logic. First, premise 4 does not logically follow from the earlier premises, since no premise states that God has infallible foreknowledge that tomorrow you will engage in event X. Premise 3 states what will occur if that were true, but no premise actually asserts that knowledge.

Secondly, premise 3 assumes what is trying to be proven. In an argument trying to prove that foreknowledge of X logically leads to having to do X, premise 3 simply states this outright. If you accept premise 3, then technically you don’t even need the other premises, because premise 3 states the conclusion that it is attempting to prove. Thus, the argument is a case of circular logic, and is therefore invalid.

An opposing argument can state:
# God is omniscient
# Since God is omniscient, he is also infallible.
# If God has infallible foreknowledge that tomorrow you will engage in event X, then you will freely choose this based on your free will, not obligation or lack of choice in event X.
# You still have free will to engage in event X; God merely knows your choice before you make it. You are not obliged to make choice 'X' anymore than choice 'A'. If you were going to change your mind, God would have seen that also, so you still have full free will in all matters. Also, you will still make the same choices [with free will] even if God chose to not see the future. Seeing the future or not does not alter your free will.

With passive foreknowledge, if it were kept hidden, it would not invalidate free will in any logical or rational way. The individual choosing event X, would be making the exact same choices regardless of whether God knew the choices beforehand or not. God knowing or not knowing the future [passively] would not alter the free will of individuals at all. The demise of free will would only logically come if God made his knowledge public in regard to the free will choice of individuals; this would therefore alter future free will, and make it an obligation. One simple illustration could be a psychic person foreseeing someone the other side of the world tripping and breaking their leg when they run to catch a bus. The psychic would not be altering reality be foreseeing this event, as this event would still happen regardless of whether someone has seen it or not, the same application can be applied to God's omniscience, as long as it is passive, and non-interfering with reality or other's knowledge of it, then it is not contravening the free will of humans.

However, if it is to be understood that God created all that is created, the principle asserts that this poses a problem for any passive knowledge on God's part. An understanding of omniscience must be joined with an understanding of God's omnipresence in time. If God knows all events past, future, and present then he would know all events and decisions an individual would make from the individuals perspective, even when those events and decisions have not yet occurred. This can be viewed, at least implicitly, as a nullification of any concept of free will for any individual, though no mechanism for God's apparent foreknowledge restraining the freedom to act of the individual is posited by the principle of theological fatalism. Since, according to the Christian theology, God is atemporal (existing outside of time), God knows from creation the entire course of one's life, all the actions in which he will partake, and even whether or not that individual will accept his divine authority. With these preconditions, only a starkly fatalist theological position seems imaginable to some.

Furthermore, If said God exists, and it came to pass that an individual surprised him, or contradicted his foreknowledge by not making the decision that God thought he would make, it would ultimately show God to have some weakness in regards to his foreknowledge. Therefore, this not only becomes a matter of what God knows, but also his supposed perfection, and whether he can be wrong. His (in)ability to be wrong also questions God's omnipotence, since one can't be perfect while retaining the ability to be wrong.

Alternatively, if God can see the future like it was past history like reading a past infinite almanac, then he (as long as he didn’t tell anyone or influence their choices) would not be responsible for the outcomes anymore then if he'd never looked.

Notes and References

ee also

* Fatalism
* Newcomb's paradox
* Theological determinism
* Compatibilism
* Calvinism
* Predestination


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Theological determinism — is the religious view that all events in the world were pre ordained by God. The most prominent theologian espousing this view was John Calvin.ee also*Determinism *Calvinism *Jansenism *Predestination *Free will *Theological fatalismExternal… …   Wikipedia

  • Fatalism — Certainty series Agnosticism Belief Certainty Doubt Determinism Epistemology Estimation Fallibilism …   Wikipedia

  • Predestination (Calvinism) — The Calvinistic doctrine of predestination is a doctrine of Calvinism which deals with the question of the control God exercises over the world. In the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith, God freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever… …   Wikipedia

  • Omniscience — For the album by Swans, see Omniscience (album). Omniscience (  /ɒmˈ …   Wikipedia

  • Argument from free will — The argument from free will contends that omniscience and free will are incompatible, and that any conception of God that incorporates both properties is therefore inherently contradictory. The Argument From Free Will (AFFW), is traditionally… …   Wikipedia

  • Accidental necessity — In philosophy and logic, accidental necessity, often stated in its Latin form, necessitas per accidens, refers to the necessity attributed to the past by certain views of time. It is a controversial concept: its supporters argue that it has… …   Wikipedia

  • Free will — This article is about the philosophical questions of free will. For other uses, see Free will (disambiguation). A domino s movement is determined completely by laws of physics. Incompatibilists say that this is a threat to free will, but… …   Wikipedia

  • Leibniz (from) to Kant — From Leibniz to Kant Lewis White Beck INTRODUCTION Had Kant not lived, German philosophy between the death of Leibniz in 1716 and the end of the eighteenth century would have little interest for us, and would remain largely unknown. In Germany… …   History of philosophy

  • Determinism — This article is about the general notion of determinism in philosophy. For other uses, see Determinism (disambiguation). Not to be confused with Fatalism, Predeterminism, or Predictability. Certainty series …   Wikipedia

  • Free Will — • The question of free will, moral liberty, or the liberum arbitrium of the Schoolmen, ranks amongst the three or four most important philosophical problems of all time Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Free Will     Free Will …   Catholic encyclopedia